On Embracing My Uniqueness
I’ve always been an introvert person. I didn’t have long term friendships due to my father’s nature of work. We had to move from one place to another every after a year or two. During my childhood, I didn’t feel any sadness every time I had to leave my friends and classmates. My set of parents was enough companions I needed as a child that time.
Becoming an adolescent was different; I spent many moments with myself alone. Although my parents were beside me all the time, growing up I knew I needed other people’s company. When we settled in a city in Saudi Arabia, I started to go to a formal school. I got exposed to a totally different environment, community and lifestyle. I was raised in a very private household. So when we moved to a new city, saturated with noises and crowd, somehow I was culture shocked.
Since then, I started to feel that I was different than the people around me. During my childhood, I wanted to play toy cars and to ride my bike when other girls played with dolls. During my teenage years, I wanted to play sports and to explore designing and writing while others wore dresses, put make up on and escaped to parties. And now as an adult I preferred spending my free time reading, writing and making memories with my trusted few people rather than going to shopping and hanging out with strangers.
Boring individual, many labeled me as.
It’s what I think people thought about me. I felt different even inside our household because everyone in the family was outgoing while I wasn’t. Eventually I started seeing myself as a lonely person because of how less friends I had, how rare I got to hang out with people, how rare I received compliments and recognition. I started to feel that I needed to belong. That led me to wanting to please people, to join the majority, to fit in. I thought joining the majority was safe, secure and fun while being different was lonely, unsafe and strange.
There is nothing wrong in having the intention to make others happy. It just goes overboard when you are already giving too much of yourself to others to the point that it becomes self-destructive because you are already neglecting your duties and priorities. There are obvious differences between being kind and being a people pleaser. The first one is sincere natural compassion towards others. It is about the intention of offering others of what you have to make them happy without expecting anything in return. While the latter is about satisfying others while expecting something in return – in a form of material, acceptance and recognition. It is about how you get benefited by what you give. You will never get what you expect no matter how hard you try and how much you sacrifice. The demands of people have no end. They’d ask for more and they’d never be satisfied. Sometimes it makes you give more than what you have to others while they can’t satisfy your expectations. So, you feel empty. That’s what makes it destructive.
And, I fell in that trap of becoming a people pleaser. I became someone else’s puppet to gain belongingness. But, pleasing people will never get you home. I felt trapped in the middle of nowhere. The more I seek home in people, the more I lose sight of my real home. I knew that it’s not the life I wanted for myself. Being accepted by others should not be my security and success. I became unhappy, unfulfilled and each day felt like I was wasting my time. I couldn’t sacrifice more of my life at the expense of fitting in to a world that isn’t mine.
I reached a point in my life when quitting was the only option I had to set freedom to myself. I stopped pleasing people, I stopped obeying orders that didn’t concern me, I quit studying a course program that I didn’t really like and I let go of being someone I am not. I embraced my unique identity. I stopped chasing the path of others and started following my own unique route. It wasn’t easy embracing my own identity in a world that demands me to be someone else. Quitting didn’t make me freed right away but I knew I was already closer to it.
Becoming a people pleaser made me lost and empty. I found no home in others, but in God. And as a lost soul, I ran back to my Master. After years of my own arrogance, I went pleading to Him. After enslaving myself to people, I surrendered myself to my Lord. After years of abandoning my prayers, I went back to prostration (sujood).
And right there, I felt home again.